Turkish President Erdogan to visit Iraq on April 22

Turkish President Erdogan to visit Iraq on April 22

Shafaq News/ Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar confirmed on Wednesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to officially visit Iraq next Monday, marking his first visit since 2011.

Earlier, Erdogan revealed in a press conference his upcoming visit to Iraq on April 22.

Erdogan emphasized the significance of this visit for both Turkiye and Iraq, aiming to "strengthen their bilateral relationship."

"Turkiye-Iraq relations will be grounded differently," he said.

Erdogan mentioned plans to sign several agreements addressing Iraq's water-related challenges.

Erdogan expressed Turkiye's commitment regarding the water crisis, "They already want us to solve this issue. We will take our steps in this direction."

Ankara will likely offer temporary relief for Iraq's water shortage by releasing the gates of its many dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Additionally, Erdogan hinted at the possibility of visiting Erbil in Iraq, indicating a broader scope of engagements beyond Baghdad.

Discussions regarding oil exports are also expected to feature prominently in his talks with Iraqi officials.

"There are also issues related to the natural gas and oil flow to Turkiye, and we will try to address them," he added.

Some of the top agenda items to be discussed are security cooperation — particularly against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and the Development Road project to link oil-rich southern Basra Governorate to Europe via Turkiye.

Notably, the two countries share a long border and a rich history. However, their relations have also been marked by periods of conflict.

One of the primary sources of tension between Turkiye and Iraq is the Kurdish issue. Turkiye views the PKK as a terrorist organization and has been conducting cross-border military operations against the PKK in Northern Iraq since the 1980s.

In July 2015, a two-and-a-half-year-long ceasefire broke down, and the conflict between Ankara and militants of the PKK entered one of its deadliest chapters in nearly four decades.

Since that date, the conflict has progressed through several phases. Between roughly 2015 and 2017 the violence devastated communities in some urban centers of Turkiye's majority-Kurdish southeast and – at times – struck into the heart of the country's largest metropolitan centers. From 2017 onward, the fighting moved into rural areas of Turkiye's southeast.

As the Turkish military pushed more militants out of Turkiye, by 2019, the conflict's concentration shifted to northern Iraq and northern Syria.

The Turkish army has established several military bases at strategic points in the Matin mountain range in Iraqi Kurdistan, citing the expulsion of Kurdistan Workers' Party militants as justification.

Another source of tension is the issue of water resources. Turkiye controls the headwaters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which are vital to Iraq's agriculture and economy. Turkiye has been accused of using its water resources to its advantage, harming Iraq's interests.

In recent years, there have been some positive signs in Turkish-Iraqi relations. The two countries have signed many agreements on trade, energy, and security cooperation. However, there are still some unresolved issues that could strain relations in the future.

Turkiye is also a significant investor in Iraq, and the two countries have a robust economic relationship.

The economic ties between Iraq and Turkiye are multifaceted, spanning various sectors such as energy, trade, investment, and construction.

Energy plays a crucial role in their relationship, with Turkiye being a major importer of Iraqi oil and natural gas.

The two countries have established several pipeline agreements for oil and gas transportation, contributing to Turkiye's energy security and Iraq's economic growth.

Trade between Iraq and Turkiye has been steadily increasing, with Turkiye being one of Iraq's largest trading partners.

The bilateral trade volume in 2021 has been $19.5 billion. Iraq became Turkiye's fifth largest export market ($11.13 billion) in 2021.

Turkish exports exceeded $12 billion in the first 11 months of 2022, and bilateral trade volume surpassed $22 billion in the same period.

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